Year of Leadership: Defining discipline with core values

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Jake Porter
  • 341st Missile Maintenance Squadron commander
As we set off into the Year of Leadership, it's important to look to those who have gone before us for guidance. Our first President provided wise counsel with the following:
"Nothing is more harmful to the service than the neglect of discipline; for that discipline, more than numbers, gives one army superiority over another," -- George Washington.

The word discipline conjures up all sorts of images - a silent drill team engaged in the synchronized mastery of their craft, a military training instructor mentoring a young Airman in the proper wear of the uniform, or an athletic team "running on all cylinders."
All of these images are fitting. However, I'd like you to take a few moments to consider self discipline and how it's at the heart of our core values. 

Integrity first 
I've often heard integrity defined as "doing the right thing even when no one is watching." If that doesn't take self discipline, I don't know what does. As a new commander, in the fast-paced month I've been here, I've had the chance to see many instances where just such integrity played out. Day in and day out, the men and women of this wing do great things in the name of defending freedom. For that, I'm extremely thankful. Unfortunately, I've seen instances where integrity and self discipline have taken a back seat. I've reviewed countless training rosters, medical readiness spreadsheets, fitness rosters - you name it. And during those reviews, I've seen far too many overdues and delinquents. Plain and simple; this is a failure of self discipline. Not only a failure to do the right thing when no one is watching, but a failure of supervision to enforce standards and ensure their Airmen are meeting their personal obligations. 

Service before self
Self discipline most certainly fits here. When each one of us raised our hand and took the oath, we bought into service before self. It's in our everyday actions that we must remind ourselves of the importance of what we do and the moral imperative we have to carry out our duties to the best of our ability. The upcoming nuclear surety inspection and operational readiness inspection will be a concrete test of where we stand as a team in relation to service before self. In the coming weeks, we'll all be tasked with extra hours of preparation, weekends polishing equipment and programs alike, following up on corrective actions from previous reports, and ensuring all the paperwork is squared away. It will be long, hard work, and it will definitely take self discipline. We owe it to our oath, and we owe it to our Nation to show to the world our proficiency and readiness. It's absolutely vital to our deterrent mission. 

Excellence in all we do
This core value calls for "...continuous improvement and innovation that will propel the Air Force into a long-term upward spiral of accomplishment and performance." We've all heard the adage that nothing worth having comes without a price. In our profession the price we pay, and volunteered to pay, is that of self discipline. The mission of this wing is truly awe-inspiring and serves as the bedrock of our Nation's defense and freedom. And that mission is only successful through each and every one of us exercising self discipline. It's through self discipline that we follow technical orders with an adherence that is fanatical, that we know our governing directives inside and out, and that we work the long hours when the mission and our people call for it. 

The men and women of this wing have been recognized as the absolute best ICBM wing in the free world an amazing 10 times. That recognition was born of self discipline. And we owe it to their tradition, to our oaths, and to our Nation to carry on that same tradition of self discipline. It's my honor to serve with you to that end.